History of the Library

This is a first in a series of posts about the history of the library at Iowa State.


To kick off this series of posts about the history of the library at Iowa State, we’re going to take a look way back to nearly the founding of Iowa State University. Starting in 1868, the library was housed in Old Main. As Old Main held the entire college, it had a lot of functions including classrooms, museums, a chapel, dining halls, and housing for both faculty and students (to learn more about Old Main, visit our online exhibit). In 1880, the library had 6,000 volumes and was open from 2 pm to 9 pm. The library was run by students in the earliest days until 1876 when some professors were tasked with the double duty of scholarship and running the library. “From this time [1884] the position was added to that of women teachers in mathematics, modern language, or elocution” (pg 80, The History of Iowa State College by Earle Dudley Ross).

Old Main

Old Main, pictured 1888,  University Archives Photos

In 1891, the library was moved to Morrill Hall, which was designed to house the library and a museum.  It was in that same year that library instruction at ISU began.  Freshmen took a 1 credit course during the second term titled “Library Work.”  In 1893, the library had 10,200 volumes and was open from 8-9:30, closing over the noon and dinner hours.

Morrill Hall Library

Students studying in the library of Morrill Hall ca. 1910. University Archives Photos

Morrill Hall was the home of the library for just 23 years, and in 1914, the library was moved to Beardshear Hall, which was deemed to be more fireproof than Morrill. The library quickly outgrew all of the buildings it occupied, so plans were laid for the library to have a permanent home of its own that could hold all of the volumes in one place.

In the next post (coming in May), we’ll look at the beginning of the library in its current location (though much smaller than the library of today!)

There are many places in the archives to learn about the history of the library and other buildings on campus.  A good place to start is the online exhibit From Prairie Sod to Campus Cornerstones: Building Our Campus History or the reference books found in the reading room.  You can also check out some quick facts from the library’s website.  To dive a little deeper, look through our finding aids and records in RS 4/8/4.


#TBT Women and Nutrition

Did you know that March is both Women’s History Month and National Nutrition Month? It seems only appropriate that this week’s #TBT photo is from the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, Department of Human Nutrition.  A woman is pictured with a table full of jars and test tubes, looking through a microscope.  The photo was taken in 1928.

March 22, 1928

University Photos, RS 12/6 Box 965

To learn more about the Impact of Women Nutritionists, please visit our online exhibit or stop by the Special Collections and University Archives reading room between 9 and 5, Monday-Friday.


Focus: Student Art #TBT

I came across this photo a little while ago and thought it’d be fun to share. The image below is of a temporary art installation from 1977 that was located southeast of the Campanile.

Art installation on lawn, shows human figures in white running than at some point they leap into the air, curl up, and land as balls.

University Photographs box 1670.

It was a part of Focus, which is an organization that supports student artists here at ISU by providing grants to students. The funding for the Focus grants are provided by the Government of the Student Body. The artists’ work is then exhibited in the spring. In the past, Focus included a fine arts festival here at Iowa State. The first festival that was held in March 1959 (RS 22/7/0/7, box 1).

Drop by the reading room to learn more about the history of Iowa State University. We’re open Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Establishing a Black Cultural Center at ISU

Following the tumultuous summer of 1968 (see the previous blog post on the formation of the Black Student Organization), a number of black students left Iowa State, including several leaders of the Black Student Organization (BSO). Due to this fact, the BSO essentially ceased to exist as a student organization during the fall of 1968. This hiatus was short-lived. In December 1968 members of the black student population reformed the Black Student Organization under the leadership of Larry Salter, an Aerospace Engineering student from Freeport, Illinois.

larry-salter-1970-bomb

Larry Salter, president of the BSO in 1969, was also a member of the Cardinal Key Honor Society as featured in the 1970 Bomb.

One of the goals of the reconstituted BSO was to advocate for a facility where black students could gather together and socialize. The plan for the center was soon expanded to also provide resources and organize events that promoted a better understanding of black culture. During the spring of 1969, BSO members and Assistant Dean of Students Tom Goodale identified several off-campus properties as possible homes for such a center, but there was still one major obstacle to overcome.

The group had to raise money. In August 1968, the non-profit organization Black Cultural Center, Inc. (BCC), was formed under the leadership of board members William Bell and Neil Harl of the ISU faculty and Judge Luther Glanton, Jr., of Des Moines. This organization was established as a vehicle to raise funds for and manage the operations of a black cultural center in Ames. In September 1969, members of BCC, Inc., and the BSO were likely disappointed, but probably not surprised, when President Parks declined to offer University funding for the purchase of a center. However, Parks strongly encouraged members of the community to help the students acquire the necessary resources to acquire a facility. Community members stepped up as did the student body: the VEISHEA Central Committee provided a $2,000 grant and the Government of the Student Body followed with a $2,400 appropriation.

black-cultural-center-1970-isd

Article from the Iowa State Daily announcing the acquisition of the Black Cultural Center. (RS 7/5/4, Black Cultural Center records)

Just a few weeks later, on October 8, 1969, the board of directors of BCC, Inc., announced that a property in Ames had been obtained for $30,000. The house, located at 517 Welch Avenue, was purchased with the support of donations from University organizations, private subscriptions, and a loan from the Alumni Achievement Fund (now part of the ISU Foundation). The organization took ownership of the property on January 1, 1970. For the next nine months, students, faculty, and members of the Ames community worked together to prepare the Black Cultural Center for its grand opening.

The Black Cultural Center was officially dedicated on Sunday, September 27, 1970, in conjunction with the dedication of Carver Hall. Since then, the BCC has offered space for all students to socialize and learn about black culture though the publication of newsletters and sponsored events and programming. In January 2017, the BCC was named after George Jackson, a longtime ISU administrator and champion for students of color. Today, the center is operated under the umbrella of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and is a recognized organization affiliated with the University.

7-5-g-bcc-496-01-01-07
An identified student speaks with President Parks and BCC Inc. Board Member William Bell at the dedication of the Black Cultural Center, September 27, 1970. (University Photograph Collection, RS 7/5/G, Box 496)

There are a number of resources available to researchers interested in learning more about the history of the BCC. News clippings related to the Black Student Organization’s efforts to establish the center can be found in RS 22/3/0/1, Multicultural Student Organizations. Files related to the Black Cultural Center can be found in RS 7/5/4, Black Cultural Center records. And of course, there are always yearbooks and other student publications to peruse. If you are interested in learning more, please stop by Special Collections and University Archives. We would love to see you!

 


#TBT WiSE

11-04-f-chemeng-835-03-08

(University Photographs box 835)

With the popularity of Hidden Figures, it is a great time to honor and remember Iowa State’s Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE).  This photo was taken in 1962 of a female graduate student working in the chemistry laboratory.  The photograph is labeled with a date, but the cat eye glasses would have been a clue for a time period as well!  To learn more about the WISE archive we have here, view our digital collection, search our archives collection, or stop by the reading room!

 


Spring is in the air

This month’s collaborative post highlights items from our Artifact Collection that remind us of spring. I know it’s probably a little premature to start thinking of spring, but tell that to this week’s forecast!

Baseball bat (Artifact 2005-R010)

1890s Silver Baseball Bat Trophy (Artifact 2005-R010)

Amy Bishop, Rare Books and Manuscripts Archivist

Nothing says spring like baseball! That’s why I choose this metal baseball bat from our archives collection for this post. This bat is a special one. It has nine engravings that indicate which schools won this special trophy bat over the course of ten years. In chronological order: Grinnell 1892, IAC 1893, IAC 1894, SUI 1895, Grinnell 1896, Cornell 1898, Grinnell 1899, SUI 1900, SUI 1901, and Grinnell 1902. SUI stands for State University of Iowa, our rivals in Iowa City, and IAC stands for Iowa Agricultural College, the name for Iowa State University from its founding until 1959. The bat also includes an engraved baseball game scene surrounded by a leaf border. What a fun piece of history from early higher education in Iowa!

Brad Kuennen, University Archivist

Spring is all about getting back outdoors and enjoying the return of sunshine and warm weather. And for some people, that means going out to the ballpark and enjoying a friendly game of baseball. Iowa State no longer has a baseball team, but this silver bat traveling trophy, dating from the 1890s, is a reminder of the excellent Cyclone teams of years past.

Becky Jordan, Reference Specialist

With major league pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training on February 14, my thoughts are with the coming season for my (reigning World Series Champions) Chicago Cubs.  As a result, the Silver Bat is the artifact that makes me think most of spring.  The bat was a trophy awarded to members of the Iowa Inter-Collegiate Base Ball Association.  The Association, formed in 1892, originally included Drake University, Iowa College at Grinnell (now Grinnell College), Iowa Agricultural College (now Iowa State University), and the State University of Iowa (now University of Iowa).  Cornell College joined in 1893.  The bat has an engraving of a baseball game in progress and the following inscriptions:  Grinnell 1902, SUI 1901, SUI 1900, Grinnell 1899, Cornell 1898, Grinnell 1892, Grinnell 1896, SUI 1895 on the handle; and on the end of the bat, IAC 1893, IAC 1894.

Woven picture “Bluebirds Herald Spring” (Artifact 2009-069.037)

Woven picture entitled "Bluebirds Herald Spring" by Shirley Held (Artifact 2009-069.037)

Woven picture entitled “Bluebirds Herald Spring” by Shirley Held (Artifact 2009-069.037)

Chris Anderson, Descriptive Records Project Archivist

This woven picture by Shirley Held is entitled “Bluebirds Herald Spring.” To me, it strongly resembles an Impressionist painting. Monet could have put these colors together. This nearly-abstract scene truly sings of Spring.

Shirley Held (1923-2014) earned a B.S. and M.S. in Home Economics and Applied Art at ISU before joining the faculty of the Department of Art and Design in 1953. She was promoted to full professor in 1975 and retired in 1990.

ISU Special Collections and Archives has the Shirley E. Held Papers (RS 26/2/53) in addition to dozens of textile artworks like this one. I’m making a mental note to learn a bit more about Held, her career, and her artistry.

Lithographic plate (Artifact 2000-105.002 )

 

Laura Sullivan, Collections Archivist

One of our artifacts which definitely makes me think of spring is the lithographic plate (Artifact 2000-105.002) of a bird’s nest with eggs, and then right next to it the hatched baby birds.  I also love that not only do we have the original plate, but also one of the prints which was made from the plate (2000-105.001).  Lithographic plates have always intrigued me since I first learned about them – who would have ever thought to create a print from stone and a water-resistant drawing substance such as wax?  This artifact comes from Iowa State University’s Iowa Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit Records (RS 9/10/04).

Link for collection:  http://www.add.lib.iastate.edu/spcl/arch/rgrp/9-10-4.html

.

VEISHEA button (Artifact 2012-120.001)

button gray background with orange swan and orange dots above swan's tail, splashes of dark gray and yellow in background, white text says "VEISHEA" then 2012 in black text.

VEISHEA button (2012-120.001)

Olivia Garrison, Reference Coordinator

This button reminds me of spring for a couple of reasons.  VEISHEA, of course, was celebrated in the spring.  This button invokes memories of the parade, cherry pies, and dirt dessert from the Agronomy department.  While there are many VEISHEA artifacts, photographs, and documents in the archives, I chose this button because of the depiction of one of ISU’s swans.  Spring is a great time to walk around our beautiful campus; and specifically, take a break by Lake LaVerne to visit Lancelot and Elaine.  To learn more about VEISHEA, see our online exhibit or by visiting the archives to look at RS 22/12: VEISHEA.

Hand Fan (Artifact 1993-002)

Rachel Seale, Outreach Archivist

This hand fan was presented to Martin Jischke, Iowa State University’s 13th president, in May 1993. The hand fan includes birds and butterflies.  It makes me think of spring because of the artwork on the fan. Of course, a fan also comes in handy as the temperatures heat up in spring.” This fan is associated with the Martin C. Jischke Papers (RS 2/13).


#TBT Putting the “Can” in “Canning”

Did you know it’s National Canned Food Month? Canned food may not be the most glamorous of edibles, but the canning process can be deceptively tricky (exploding fruit, anyone?). There are countless guides on how to can various foods on the internet, including these from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. Educating the public on canning procedures is nothing new for Extension – they were giving demonstrations on that 90 years ago! Below are some photos from such demonstrations:

Process of canning beans, 1928. University Photographs, RS 16/3/F, Box 1368.

Process of canning beans, 1928. University Photographs, RS 16/3/F, Box 1368.

Canning demonstration, 1938. University Photographs, RS 16/3/F, Box 1396.

Canning demonstration, 1938. University Photographs, RS 16/3/F, Box 1369.

Canned meat from a canning demonstration, 1934. University Photographs, RS 16/3/F, Box 1369.

Canned meat from a canning demonstration, 1934. University Photographs, RS 16/3/F, Box 1369.

Canned vegetables from a canning demonstration, 1938. University Photographs, RS 16/3/F, box 1369.

Canned vegetables from a canning demonstration, 1938. University Photographs, RS 16/3/F, Box 1369.

Want to learn more about canning? The Gertrude L. Sunderlin Papers contain studies on canning dating back to the 1920s. We also have a wealth of Extension publications, some of which may contain tips on canning and recipes. Stop by sometime!


Chocolate-Covered Traditions

How do you plan on showing your sweetheart that you care about them this Valentine’s Day? Flowers are a popular choice, poetry is always nice, but why not embrace the little known Iowa State Tradition of giving a 5 pound box of chocolate!  Iowa State students during the 1940s and 1950s announced monumental events in their lives by exchanging different sizes of boxed
chocolate. Pinning, the act of a Greek man giving his fraternity pin to his steady girlfriend, was celebrated by exchanging a 2 pound box of chocolate while engagements called for a 5 pound box, wedding announcements came with a 10 pound box, and pregnancies were announced by a 15 pound box (RS 0/16/1, Traditions and Myths of Iowa State, box 1, folder 5).

So where would all of this chocolate go? It would be passed out during a ‘pound party’ where women would surprise their sorority sisters or floor-mates with their announcement. Women planned out this surprise party down to the very last details; some women planned lunches, ordered embroidered napkins and photo holders, and even used color schemes to represent the couple’s fraternity or sorority colors.

Local Ames businesses, such as Your Treat Shop formerly on Lincoln Way, would advertise their candy shops in Iowa State’s newspapers by announcing the engagements of couples who purchased pounds of candy at their shops.

Advertisement in the March 1950 Iowa State Scientist. Image of a smiling couple at a candy counter, ad reads "Your Treat Shop salutes Mary Alice Connolly and Neil Hansen who announced their engagement with five pounds of chocolate from Your Treat Shop for your five or ten pound party or for any occasion, buy the best of candies at Your Treat Shop, 2526 Lincoln Way.

Your Treat Shop advertisement in the March 1950 Iowa State Scientist (RS 0/16/1, Traditions and Myths of Iowa State Records, box 1, folder 5).

Although this tradition died out in the late 1960s, sorority women still celebrate engagements and pinning with candle passings, often still a surprise to the chapter.

If you find yourself alone this Valentine’s Day, you can also celebrate with what students called a “lemon party,” where women who spent the four years unattached would share a box of lemon drops instead of chocolate.

Today’s blog post was written by Madison Vandenberg, our student assistant. You can read her other blog posts here: https://isuspecialcollections.wordpress.com/author/madiepatie/. You can read an earlier post on sweet traditions at Iowa State here: https://isuspecialcollections.wordpress.com/2016/02/11/cypix-sweet-tradition/.


Formation of the Black Student Organization at ISU

For this look back at the 1960s I’ve decided to explore the origins of the Black Student Organization at ISU (now the Black Student Alliance). Not only is it a story that is not well-known to me, but I suspect it is not familiar to most people now at Iowa State. It seems almost all Iowa Staters are familiar with the story of George Washington Carver, Iowa State’s first African American student and faculty member, and the tragedy of Iowa State’s first black athlete, Jack Trice. After doing some research into our student organizations files here in the archives, I found that the story of the formation of the Black Student Organization at ISU is just as interesting and incredibly relevant to students on campus today.

The 1960s at Iowa State started off much as the 1950s left off. Strict rules were still in place regulating conduct and social interaction of women students. Students were separated into different dormitories with men on one side of campus and the women on the other. However, as the 1960s wore on, student perceptions began to change. Like in much of the country, students began to question the war in Vietnam, female students began to push back against gender barriers, and students of color began to speak out against racism and prejudice.

In the summer of 1967, the faculty and staff newspaper, News of Iowa State, ran an article reporting on a study completed by two ISU journalism students regarding the racial climate at Iowa State. The findings, authored by Pat Alford, identified as a “Negro coed from Charlotte, N.C.,” and Maurine Foster, simply identified as a Weldon, Iowa native, were both journalism students at Iowa State. The results of their study found that the racial climate at Iowa State at that time was “relatively favorable.” During those years, the University attempted to eliminate overt discrimination. Students interviewed in the study didn’t believe they would be denied membership to student groups, but with an enrollment of around 125, black students largely felt they were being left out of the mainstream of college life. (This may help explain why it is so difficult to find a photograph in our collections of an African-American student at Iowa State prior to 1970 unless he was involved in athletics.)

kic-image-0001

Article from the Iowa State Daily, April 6, 1968, reporting on the demonstration by a group of students at the Memorial Union the previous day.

This favorable view of campus race relations abruptly changed following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1968. The following day, black students on campus held a demonstration in the Commons of the Memorial Union. According to a report by the Iowa State Daily (April 6, 1968), a group of approximately 40 students filed into the Union, toasted to “black unity on campus” and then dropped and shattered their drinking glasses on the floor, overturned their tables and chairs, and quietly left. Following the demonstration, a statement was issued and signed by the “Afro-American Students of Iowa State University,” a group that formed the night before under the leadership of student Bruce Ellis. The students adopted a constitution on April 23, 1968 and officially became the Black Student Organization.

In early May, students and administrators were interviewed by the Iowa State Daily (May 3, 1968) for an article on campus race relations. One of those students was Pat Alford, the student from Charlotte. The article identifies some of the common forms of discrimination blacks faced at Iowa State. These included overt forms such as insensitive signs and symbols used by student groups and the denial of access to certain student groups based on skin color. It is interesting that these statements seem to conflict with what was reported a year earlier. The article noted the psychological burdens of being a person of color in a community where the vast majority of students and faculty are white. Black students also felt they were missing out on social interactions at Iowa State. According to one estimate, black male students outnumbered black female students at Iowa State 15 to 1, resulting in many black male students traveling to Des Moines to find a date.

bomb1968page119 0001.jpg

1967 Iowa State football team (Bomb, 1968, page 119)

Within weeks, the Black Student Organization would take their concerns to University administration. On May 20, 1968, the black athletes of Iowa State, with the full support of the Black Student Organization, issued eight grievances to the Athletic Council. The students asked for racial representation in the coaching staff and administration of the athletics department, reprimands or removal of three coaches and trainers they accused of discriminatory treatment of black athletes, more leniency for all athletes in terms of academics and living requirements, an allowance for black athletes to seek employment while on full scholarship, and a request that the ISU community use the words Black Students or Afro-Americans in place of the term Negro.

The initial response from the Athletic Council, signed by council chairman John Mahlstede, did not exactly impress the students. Dated two weeks later on June 5, the response was carefully worded, but it was clear that the Council did not find any evidence of discriminatory actions by the coaches or in its hiring practices. Not surprisingly, this announcement did not end the controversy.

kic-image-0001

The first page from a letter, dated May 20, 1968, submitted to the Athletic Council on behalf of the black student athletess. (See file labeled Black Student Organization – Athletic Council Issue in RS 22/3/0/1, Multicultural Student Affairs)

By the end of June, President W. Robert Parks asked that the University Human Relations Committee conduct a separate investigation into the grievances. This report, presented just two weeks later, recognized that discrimination almost assuredly existed on campus and that “the need for change in behavior on the part of individual members of the University community is crucial.” The report did not charge any individuals with discriminatory actions. It did, however, strongly encourage the hiring of a black football coach, a recommendation that coach Johnny Majors fulfilled when he hired coach Ray Green in the spring of 1969.

These actions did not satisfy everyone. At least seven students carried through on their promise to leave Iowa State if and when the Athletic Council did not comply with the eight grievances. Bruce Ellis, president of the Black Student Organization, was one of these students along with two football players. Though these students did not immediately effect the change they hoped to, their actions did initiate a conversation about race and inclusivity that in many ways continues today. They also helped foster a growing awareness among members of the ISU community that racism and discrimination were present on the Iowa State campus and that the entire community was responsible for addressing the concerns raised by black students of Iowa State.

More information on the early years of the Black Student Organization (now known as the Black Student Alliance) is available in Special Collections and University Archives in collection RS 22/3/0/1, Multicultural Student Organizations. Unfortunately, the black student experience at Iowa State is largely underrepresented in the archives. Most of the materials that are available to historians and researchers consist of newspaper clippings or files from campus administration. These records are often incomplete and leave gaps in the historical record. We welcome collection materials (i.e. photographs, letters, flyers, etc.) from alumni that might help document the experience of black students at Iowa State.


Rare Book Highlights: the oldest book

Large books sits in an open box with sides raised at angles to support the book when it is opened.

Quaestiones de veritate sitting in its cradle box specially designed by a former intern with the library’s Preservation Department.

Saint Thomas Aquinas. Quaestiones de veritate. Colonie: Johann Koelhoeff de Lubeck, 1475. Call number: XI 1475 T36.

It is certainly not the oldest book in the world, but it is the oldest book at Iowa State University Library. This copy of St. Thomas Aquinas‘s work, known in English as Disputed Questions on Truth and originally written in the 13th century, was printed by Johann Koelhoeff de Lubeck in 1475 in Cologne, Germany.  It is what is referred to as an incunabulum, or “incunable,” a book printed in Europe before the year 1501. “Incunabula” is a Latin word that translates to “swaddling clothes,” and it refers to books from “the cradle of printing” period–the first 50 years of printing following Gutenberg‘s invention of moveable type and the printing press. These are the first European books that were made in a mechanized fashion, after centuries of scribes in monasteries painstakingly copying books by hand.

With its designation as ISU’s Oldest Book, this Aquinas sees a lot of use. We trot it out for visiting VIPs getting a tour of the library. We show it to alumni, and occasionally to eager groups of students who heard something about a really old book. And this book is worth seeing. Not only because it is “really old,” but because it demonstrates a lot about how early books were made.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The cover shows signs of being quite ornamental. Leather was stretched over wooden boards, and the leather was stamped with hot metal tools. These tools created diamond patterns and stamps of what looks like a deer, birds, fleur de lis, and other floral and geometric shapes. There are holes in four corners and in the center that likely once held bosses (click here for another blog post featuring bosses), and there are signs of clasps at the edges of the front and back covers.

Shows an open book. On the left side is a sheet with two columns of handwritten text.

Manuscript leaf used to attach the covers to the book.

Opening up the book, there are more interesting things to see. Above, you can see a manuscript leaf (a page that has been written by hand) that had been used as a front endpaper covering the wooden board of the cover. It was a common practice for early bookbinders to use manuscript waste or print waste in this way. Here is a close-up view of the manuscript writing:

Close up of the manuscript inside the front cover of the book.

Close up of the manuscript inside the front cover of the book.

The inside back cover is similar, but here, a strip of the paper has been torn away to reveal the cords laced in the board. The pages of a book are sewn onto a series of cords. These cords are then attached to the boards, as can be seen below. On the spine, you can see evidence of the cords hidden underneath the leather in what are known as raised bands.

Looking into the pages of the text itself, we see that the pages of the printed text look very similar to the manuscript pages lining the boards. In both the  manuscript and printed leaves, the page layout is very similar with two columns of text and wide margins that was commonly used for medieval manuscripts. The typeface was designed to resemble the form of letters in medieval scripts.

Two facing pages of a book. Each page has two columns of text. There are large red initial capital letters and other red markings added to the text by pen.

Inside pages of Quaestiones de veritate.

What also stands out are the red initial capital letters at the beginning of sections of the text. These features were also brought into printing from the medieval manuscript tradition. These initials could be decorated in various ways, and could sometimes contain elaborate figures and scenes. Here they are simple red letter forms, but I find them no less appealing for their simplicity.

The pages also contain numerous other red markings in the text. This is referred to as rubrication and is usually used to indicate the end of one section of text and the beginning of another, and sometimes to announce the subject of the section or its purpose. The word “rubrication” comes from the Latin rubrico, meaning “to color red.” A completed text was given to a special scribe known as a rubricator who would add the additional red markings. Here we see this early printed work following a similar process.

Thanks for coming on this tour of our oldest book in the collection. Now you can see why it gets so much attention!